South Africa said farewell on Saturday to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the last great hero of the struggle against apartheid, in a funeral stripped of pomp but freighted with glowing tributes and showered with rain.
Tutu died last Sunday at the age of 90, triggering grief among South Africans and tributes from world leaders for a life spent fighting injustice.
Famous for his modesty, Tutu gave instructions for a simple, no-frills ceremony, with a cheap coffin, donations for charity instead of floral tributes, followed by an eco-friendly cremation.
Family, friends, clergy and politicians gathered at Cape Town’s St. George’s Cathedral where, for years, Tutu used the pulpit to rail against a brutal white minority regime. That is where he will be buried.
“We thank you for loving our father,” said Tutu’s daughter Mpho.
“Because we shared him with the world, you share part of the love you held for him with us, so we are thankful.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who accorded Tutu a funeral usually reserved for presidents, kicked off the eulogy saying had Tutu been alive, “he would have said hey, ‘why are you looking so grim, so unhappy’”.
“While our beloved (Nelson Mandela) was the father of our democracy, Archbishop Tutu was the spiritual father of our new nation.”